The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities.
CNN gives a nod to Skeptical Inquirer, specifically a Bruce Martin piece from 1998, in a look at spooky coincidences and “synchronicities.” (Alas, nothing about shouting over the din of our Rice Krispies, or something crawling to the surface from the bottom of a dark Scottish lake.)
A poll by the AP shows, troublingly, that a huge majority of Americans rank Christians’ religious freedoms over other faiths, ranking Muslims last (who are nearly tied with the nonreligious).
Stephen Law, writing at the Free Thinking blog, tears apart a review of Dawkins’ An Appetite for Wonder by John Gray at The New Republic, calling it “embarrassingly awful.”
Many of Gray’s errors are egregious errors. Any reasonably intelligent person who took the time to read [the piece] should be able recognise that Gray is committing a variety of flaming howlers. And anyone at all familiar with Dawkins’s work should also be able to recognise that Gray is saying things that are untrue. That ‘science is [or should be] an unquestioned view of the world’ is obviously not Dawkins’s view; rather, it’s Schmawkins’s view, Schmawkins being the straw-man facsimile of Dawkins favoured by his weaker-minded opponents.
Joe Nickell reviews the new film Concussion, dramatizing the scandal of head injuries in the NFL, and connects the subject matter to our own skeptical sphere:
Concussion soon reveals how the Big Business and fans of an American craze respond to a medical interloper who would cost them money (and fun). It is reminiscent of earlier instances of science denial—for example, the refusals by tobacco and oil companies to admit that respectively, cigarette smoking causes cancer and carbon emissions produce global warming.
Robert Blaskiewicz updates us on the exploits of Stanislaw Burzynski and the latest attempts to seek justice from his, and this is putting it nicely, medical adventurism:
Now there appears to be no resistance from the FDA, as patients with brain tumors are currently traveling to Houston to be given antineoplastons [the Burzynski cancer therapy for which there is no evidence of efficacy]. Skeptics want to know what happened at the FDA that allowed this to occur, and we are soliciting any information that anyone has that could help us understand how in the world this could possibly happen.
Ben Popper and Elizabeth Lopatto at The Verge look back on a year of pseudoscience being championed and heavily funded by folks in Silicon Valley:
You’ve got a bunch of old white men who are afraid to die trying to figure out cryonics. They’re being funded by more rich old white men, who don’t face many of these care gaps and perhaps do not even know they exist — or don’t care, because how do you monetize serving the poor?
Earlier this year, you’ll recall, a mob beat to death a man in India who was accused of killing and eating a cow. An investigation shows that what he had was goat meat. Not mentioned is why that should even matter in the first place, or what the hell is wrong with our species.
Hillary Clinton declares ISIS’s killing of Christians, Yazidis, Kurdish Muslims and other religious minorities to be genocide, emphasizing that she understands the “legal import” such a word carries.
Without mentioning ISIS as the specific target, Twitter outlines new rules banning “hateful conduct” and incitement of violence against groups:
You may not promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability or disease.
PRI introduces us to “Burmese Bart,” an atheist artist in Myanmar whose inspirations are George Carlin and, yeah, Bart Simpson.
I missed this just before the holiday: The United Church of Bacon puts up a delightful billboard wishing everyone a happy season of cured pork consumption.
Atlas Obscura captures images of Pine Bush, “the UFO Capital of New York.”
Quote of the Day:
Writing at RT, a fellow going by the one-word name of “Lionel” angrily bemoans the lack of coverage from the media of UFOs, calling it a “Cosmic Watergate.” But whatever. The quote of the day is the bio he has by his byline:
Lionel (né Michael Wm. Lebron) is an Emmy® Award winning trial lawyer, published author, proud husband, legal analyst and news decoder, essayist, bluegrass guitarist, (out)spoken word performer and raconteur, vegan, talk radio veteran, pioneer podcaster, [and] political atheist with a black belt in realpolitik.
Wowee wow wow! * * *
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